Federal Reserve System

The Pathetic Party

Barely a week into George W. Bush's presidency, his tax cut seems almost inevitable. The Democrats appear set to repeat their sordid performance of 20 years ago--when, instead of resisting Ronald Reagan's tax cut, they larded it with special-interest subsidies of their own. The size of the tax cut acceptable to Democrats edges up almost daily, from $500 billion to (as we go to press) $850 billion. Republicans, meanwhile, have begun predicting that the eventual tax cut might end up even larger than Bush's bloated proposal.

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A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Alabama and University of Florida, sponsored by the Natural Resource Defense Council , shows that car-dependent communities have statistically higher rates of mortgage foreclosure than communities with multiple transportation options, such as transit, biking and walking. This also explains to some extent why across the country that “walkable urban” home values over the past two years have been flat or slightly down while fringe “drivable sub-urban” communities have suffered the worst price declines.  The average American household spe

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If I had to guess as I write this, I'd say no. But the trendlines for the Fed chairman aren't moving in the right direction. Today's Wall Street Journal had a piece noting that the Fed chairman was headed toward a closer than expected vote in the Senate next week, with Dems Byron Dorgan and Jeff Merkley joining Bernie Sanders, the Senate's chief Bernanke-hater on the left, as opponents of a second term.

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Update: the Senate needs to hold a new hearing for Ben Bernanke--here’s the full proposal. Ben Bernanke’s reconfirmation as chair of the Federal Reserve is in disarray. With President Obama having launched, on Thursday morning, a major new initiative to rein in the power of--and danger posed by--our leading banks, key Senators rightly begin to wonder: Where does Ben Bernanke stand on the central issue of the day? There are three specific questions that Bernanke must answer, in some convincing detail, if he is to shore up his weakening cause in the Senate. (1) Does he support the President’s pr

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Daniel Gross recently wrote an excellent piece for Slate about why we should ignore the banking industry's warnings about the bank tax. Basically, Gross argues that they are probably wrong now because they've always been wrong (at least about the dangers of regulation): This rule dates almost to the beginning of American history. Many commercial banks in the United States opposed the creation of the first and second national banks of the United States in the late 18th and early 19th century.

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Double Down

Otherwise-obscure central bankers spent an unprecedented amount of time in the global limelight last year. As the crisis brought down not only banking behemoths, but also macroeconomic axioms, the expansionary measures enacted by the Fed’s Ben Bernanke, the European Central Bank’s Jean-Claude Trichet, and the Bank of England’s Mervyn King have been credited, at least for now, with preventing a second coming of the Great Depression.

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The closest thing Congress has to its own Tea Party takes place every Wednesday afternoon, in the Gold Room of the Rayburn House Office building.

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Sources say that Goldman Sachs’s bonuses will be announced on Monday, January 18, and actually paid sometime between February 4 and February 7. In previous years, the bonuses were paid in early January--but the financial year shifted when Goldman became a bank holding company. For critics of the company and its fellow travelers, the timing could not be better. Anxiety levels about the financial sector are on the increase, even on Capitol Hill. The tension between high profits in banking and stress in the rest of the economy becomes increasingly a topic of discussion across the nation. And you

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Pretending

The Beatles: Rock Band Guitar Hero When smug old children of the 1970s such as my friends and I get together, we play a game. We talk about the bands we loved when we were kids; we trade grumbles about the fact that music no longer seems to dominate youth culture, as we nostalgically recall the role that rock had in our past; and we try to guess what happened. I call this a game and not a discussion, because really it is diverting silliness that boils down to a competition to reach an agreed-upon goal--that is, to prove our generation’s superiority to our successors.

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Beware the Meme!

My favorite moment from last month’s White House jobs summit came when the president asked if Washington had been doing something to discourage hiring. At this point, a man named Fred Lampropoulos, the CEO of a Utah-based medical device manufacturer, chimed in that yes, in fact, it had. “[T]here’s such an aggressive legislative agenda that businesspeople don’t really know what they ought to do,” Mr. Lampropoulos told the president, according to The New York Times. Political uncertainty, he said, “is really what’s holding back the jobs.” Well, okay.

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